I think some of the best dishes are created when you apply flavors and infusions from the outdoor grill into classic recipes which are traditionally prepared indoors.
This week's column covers such a dish,
and frankly, one of my favorites.
The atmosphere of autumn reminds us of comfort foods, and one primary genre' of comfort foods is soup. This French onion soup recipe is smoky, hearty and cheesy, and most importantly, classically simple to prepare if patience is observed. The key is how patient you are with the onions.
First, set up the grill with indirect heat. As you know by now, my approach is to use a hickory log as the divider which keeps the hot coals on one side. As the log slowly smolders it will provide the smoky infusion for which we are looking. The other alternative is to sprinkle coals with hickory chips, or if you are using a gas grill, use a smoke box with your favorite wood.
• 6 to 8 large yellow onions
• 4 to 6 slices of french bread
• 2 to 3 Tbs of butter
• 1 Tbs olive oil
• 1 Tbs flour
• 3 cans of beef broth (each can is 14.5 oz)
• 2/3 cup water
• 2/3 cup dry red wine
• 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
• ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
• salt and pepper to taste
Cut the onions in half and place on the side of the grill that is opposite the coals along with the French bread. Cover with lid and allow to smoke for 30 minutes. Remove the smoked onions and French bread and allow to cool. Thinly slice the onions and set aside.
Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions and saute' until a medium caramel brown. This step is very important, as most people do not cook the onions long enough to achieve the color.
This step will take a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently. That is what achieves the sweetness of the soup.
Once the caramel-brown color is achieved, add the flour and stir for another two minutes. Add the water and stir until well blended. Now add the wine and the beef broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Can you smell that?????
Season to your liking with salt and pepper. Be careful with the salt, as most broths tend to be salty.
Ladle into individual oven-proof bowls and float a piece of smoked French bread on top of the soup.
Sprinkle with Swiss and Parmesan cheeses.
Place in the oven at 400 degrees on the broil setting.
Serve when the cheese is just slightly brown, like a nice pizza. Accompany this dish with your favorite red wine. You have no idea how good this is until you try it. Please let me know what you think.
You'll be thanking me.
Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at www.BBQMyWay.com.